CIF Inorganic Lab


CIF Logo The CIF Inorganic Laboratory is located in room 105 of the Science and Engineering Facility (Bldg. #16). The instruments in this laboratory are used to analyze, identify, and describe a wide variety of solids and solutions. CIF personnel are available to train students in the safe preparation of samples and operation of the instruments. The Inorganic Laboratory analyzes a wide variety of samples including environmentally related samples and recycled catalysts. Samples are not limited to rocks, soil, and inorganic chemicals; organic materials such as tree cores, polymers, and fish tissue can be analyzed for many of the heavy metals.

X-Ray Diffractometer

XRD The x-ray powder diffractometer is used to identify crystalline compounds. Most solids are crystalline, and their diffraction pattern can be computer matched to a database of more than 115,000 known patterns. XRD is often used for qualitative identification of compounds. If standards are available, it can perform quantitative analysis. The laboratory uses a Scintag XDS2000 equipped with an automated sample changer and a high resolution solid state detector.

Types of samples include soils, rocks, polymers and textiles.


X-Ray Fluorescence

XRF X-ray fluorescence spectrometer is also available in the laboratory. XRF is useful for the determination of elements in a solid sample. Typical samples include soils, sediments, rocks and catalysts.


Sample Preparation

The Inorganic Laboratory has several options for sample preparation. Two CEM closed vessel microwave sample preparation systems and microwave ashing furnace system are available. The units were purchased in December 1993 and May 1995. The microwave digesters have pressure and temperature sensors to monitor the sample decomposition. They use pressure, temperature, and acids to digest the samples. The microwave ashing furnace offers a quick way to ash samples, up to 97% faster than conventional muffle furnaces. Most of the samples that are run on the ICP and ICP/MS are first digested by the microwave. The microwave systems have many advantages that make them useful. They reduce sample preparation time, offer control of the reaction, and are easy to use.

A digestion program can be set up for each individual sample. High and low pressures are available. Typically, the high pressure vessels are used for biological and organic samples while the low pressure vessels are sued for soil/sediment, environmental samples, and catalysts. If you have any questions about how to prepare your samples, do not hesitate to call.

Sample contamination is prevented by using high-purity deionized water and low trace metal digestion acids. The digestion vessels and glassware are acid cleaned and washed before use.

All the necessary safety equipment, such as gloves, lab coats, and safety glasses are available in the Inorganic Laboratory. It is extremely important that users of the microwave systems are safety trained.

Additionally, there is a hot plate digestion table and a cleanroom available in the Organic Laboratory.


Pierre Burnside is the lab manager and a specialist in x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, x-ray diffractometry, trace metal analysis and scanning electron microscopy. Please contact him for additional information.

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764